The Love Dare: Learning Unconditional Love to Save Our Marriages, Families and Nation

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Not long ago I heard someone say that "Gay Marriage" should be allowed because it is about love, about following your heart. My first thought was, "This person doesn't know what they're talking about. Marriage isn't about love." Now before you write me off as a cynic or a 19th century chauvinist, hear me out. My late father taught me this lesson long before I was ever in a real relationship. Love, as it is most commonly defined in popular culture today, is really just infatuation at best and selfish lust at worst, and while attraction is very important in a marriage, it is not the most important thing.

The most important thing in marriage is a different kind of love that best corresponds to the concept of commitment: Commitment to doing whatever is necessary to keep your spouse happy and the marriage successful. Study after study has shown that the initial infatuation in a relationship wears off in anywhere from two weeks to two years. Couples who do not cultivate a committing love soon find that their so-called "love" has evaporated and they are left with two imperfect people who now share essentially every aspect of their lives together and often get on each other's nerves. This is why many marriages end at this point: One or both parties may not be willing to do the right things to stay absolutely committed to and happy in their marriage. People who only love (ie: are infatuated with) each other do not stay married. People who are absolutely committed to their marriages do.

Now I do think that love as God defines it, is the most important thing is marriage. But this kind of love is patient, kind, unselfish, slow to anger and quick to forgive, has a strong desire to please the object of their love and be as good to them as they can . . . and better every day. While this isn't the kind of love we usually see in movies and romance novels today, it is the only kind of love that brings lasting happiness and keeps a marriage going throughout time and eternity and raises healthy and good children.

For Valentine's Day this year, I decided to give my eternal companion a gift with real meaning: I have accepted to take a unique dare every day for the next 40 days to show my wife how much I really love her. (Today's dare to to surprise her by calling her up sometime in the middle of the day to ask her how her day is going and just listen.) I got the idea from the movie Fireproof and got the book The Love Dare, which has the 40 daily entries that include a short summary on a principle of true love, a daily dare and room to record the experience.

I love their concept of love in this book: that it is not something that comes and goes outside of your control, but something that you selflessly nurture and cultivate daily that ultimately brings the greatest happiness to you and your spouse.

From the introduction:

This book is about love. It’s about learning and daring to live a life filled with loving relationships. And this journey begins with the person who is closest to you: your spouse. May God bless you as you begin this adventure.

But be sure of this: it will take courage. If you accept this dare, you must take the view that instead of following your heart, you are choosing to lead it. The world says to follow your heart, but if you are not leading it, then someone or something else is. The Bible says that “the heart is more deceitful than all else” (Jeremiah 17:9), and it will always pursue that which feels right at the moment.

We dare you to think differently—choosing instead to lead your heart toward that which is best in the long run. This is a key to lasting, fulfilling relationships.

The Love Dare journey is not a process of trying to change your spouse to be the person you want them to be. You’ve no doubt already discovered that efforts to change your husband or wife have ended in failure and frustration. Rather, this is a journey of exploring and demonstrating genuine love, even when your desire is dry and your motives are low. The truth is, love is a decision and not just a feeling. It is selfless, sacrificial, and transformational. And when love is truly demonstrated as it was intended, your relationship is more likely to change for the better.


Happy Valentine's Day everyone! May you also find and keep true love in your life.


emissary said...

This is a wonderful post. Thank you. I have seen the concept of commitment strongly in my own family. I have siblings married anywhere from 4 to 12 years. My parents have been married for more than 35. And my grandparents for more than 60. That kind of love can't survive on infatuation alone!

Pearl said...

I remember learning in college about this concept of different types of love. If I remember correctly, once the passionate love of engaged couples and newlyweds dies down, the next stage entered is "companionate" love. And it most definitely requires a high level of commitment to combat the naturally waning libido. One of the things my husband and I promised each other when we got engaged is that we would never, ever stop trying to make our marriage work; even if it seemed to be going down the tubes (or perhaps especially then). At any rate, we've been happily married for some time now and look forward to many more years of our relationship based on commitment, procreation, companionship, and yes, love too. Thank you so much for this post. It is an excellent reminder to be more proactive in making marriage succeed rather than sitting back and sulking about unrealized expectations. Bravo!

Secular Heretic said...

Great post, thanks. Love is about giving your whole self to the other person.

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